Ipswich to re-launch Senior Women’s programme

Harriet Welham is one former star who will be back in blue next season

Following the success of both the club and academy girls’ programmes in recent seasons, Ipswich Basketball Club is delighted to announce the re-launch of their Senior Women’s programme.

Historically, Ipswich is one of the powerhouse programmes in the women’s game, with national success at senior level in the 1980s and 1990s. However, in the early 2000s the club made the difficult decision to withdraw from the Senior National League. Ipswich did have a women’s team playing NBL between 2011 and 2016, but withdrew from competition in 2016/2017 for a variety of reasons, most notably because the team was struggling to find a suitable coach.

However, coming off a season where the under-16 girls were national league runners up, and the academy again proved to be one of the best programmes in the country in terms of player development, the time is right to re-launch a senior programme.

“We’ve created a top level Men’s team for our junior players to look up to and this town to be proud of – now we are going to do the same for the girls” – Nick Drane

The team will have to follow the same path as the Ipswich’s Men’s team, and work their way through the divisions to get back to the top of the women’s game, but they have good reason to feel confident. The new squad be coached by club Head Coach Nick Drane, the man who led Ipswich from playing in an empty gym in Division Four to playing in front of crowds of four hundred plus in NBL Division Two in just two seasons.

“I’m really excited about this project,” said Drane. “We launched the men’s team when the time was right. We had a core group of junior players to go with some excellent seniors and that gave us a foundation to build on. We have been waiting for this opportunity for a few years and there will never be a better time. The academy is key in all of this as it enables us to take players development to the next level.

“Combine that with some of the younger players in the club, and players that have graduated the programme and are now playing at University and I think we have a team that can make some real noise in the National League”.

Many of this season’s National U19 Cup-winning Academy team will be back next year

Coach Drane will be joined by long serving Team Manager Terry Rigby, who has been part of his successful backroom staff with the men’s team for the past five seasons. Coach John Ellis will take over from Drane as the Senior Men’s coach, assisted by Rob Schatten.

The Ipswich Senior Women are likely to feature multiple Great Britain international from a variety of age groups with the likes of Ashleigh Pink, Maya Price and Esther Little as well as high-calibre experienced national league players such as Harriet Welham and Amy Linton all expected to be involved.

Much like the senior men’s team, Ipswich Basketball Club is seeking investment to help develop the programme. The support and involvement of local businesses such as Turners Hyundai and Scrutton Bland has played a huge part in the development of the team, and has helped give the town another high profile sports team. Nick Drane added: “We’ve created a top level Men’s team for our junior players to look up to and this town to be proud of – now we are going to do the same for the girls”.

The club will be holding an open trial for the senior women’s team – watch this space for details. For anyone interested in playing for this team that is not already involved, please contact Nick Drane on 07879841749 or email ndrane@copleston.suffolk.sch.uk.